Idiot.

Then again, everyone else in Shinra is. He may have actually had some intelligence, but his temper tantrums seem to have sufficiently made up for that part.

All for the better it seemed.

Those eyes, a second ago so full of rage and hate twinkled, threatening to turn milky and dull soon. That twinkle, though, that's what made me laugh. That's what made me realize everything.

His hand twitched, as if he were grabbing something slightly. He thought he'd found oblivion. He thought he was just going to go ahead and die now, problem solved. Didn't he?

Oh, nice try Vincent.

I lifted him to the table and then took off his jacket. I kept my eyes on him as I fumbled around trying to find some large bandages. Before he closed his eyes, I saw enough of that gleam. That was what I wanted, what I had been searching for and almost never knew it. He shut his eyes on me, but I had caught enough of a glimpse by then.

His mouth twitched, trying to smile against the dizziness, nausea, and blood loss. I had given him his dream of oblivion—if only just for a few hours—and he had given me mine. He had had shown me the greatest joke in the world, and he was the punchline. That's what I'd make him.

I tied bandage after bandage to him, attaching IVs and using a few painkillers. His breathing was shallow, his skin was clammy and cold. His chest began to spasm and I had to gently tilt his head. Killing him would deprive me of the joke he had just shown me, so snapping his neck was something I had to be careful to avoid.

He retched furiously, spewing vomit on his face, then nothing but bile, and finally dry heaves that must have been painful and torn his throat raw.

That wasn't my concern. My concern was him losing too much blood and dying from shock. My concern was his pulse. My concern was his breathing. My concern was the joke. I had to fully experience that joke. I had to reach the punchline, and so did he. He was the punchline.

I had used almost an entire box of bandages before the blood flow had slowed enough. It hadn't stopped, but it was satisfactory. After tying a wad of gauze over the wound I finally had my hands free long enough to use some of my more complicated tools.

The first thing I gave to him was a blood transfusion. The experiments with the Jenova cells called for a few on hand. Then came the machines. They were easy and automatic, but only after precise adjustments and settings

.

His pulse was steadying—with mechanical assistance, yes, but soon he wouldn't need that anymore.

He'd probably need more painkillers in a few hours. Well, 'need' is such a subjective word, now isn't it? At the moment I needed to compile notes, maybe even try some calculations to see just what I was going to do to him, just how the joke was going to come out. I probably would need some sleep as well soon.

Unfortunately, he was only human… as of yet, that is. I found myself sighing and staying longer to tie his arm down to the side of the table so he wouldn't be able to move it and pull the IV's out. He could piss himself out of pain for all I cared. That wasn't part of the joke. Not yet. Not like this.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

The next day I came in to make sure he hadn't ripped himself off the table and smashed everything in a pathetic attempt to stand on his feet.

Thankfully he was too disoriented and weak to do much more than stare at me. That reaction from him that I got. God, it was perfect. If I ever forgot my direction in trying to achieve my joke, all I'd ever have to do would be to hold him down and stare into his eyes. I loved those amazing eyes of his. They'd given me this joke, and what a joke it was. I almost wanted to thank him for the anger and absolute confusion and disorientation adding to the sight of those eyes.

He seemed to be having a fight between wanting to talk to me and thinking he'd vomit as soon as he opened his mouth.

Both sides lost and he gave a dry heave and then it seemed he forgot how to swallow for a few seconds.

I replaced blood bag. I needed him alive. The rest of the blood his body could probably replace it on his own in a few weeks.

I replaced the bandages over the wound, slightly annoyed with the trash bin, filling up as fast as it was.

Staring at the wound I shook my head. The joke would take longer than I thought to play out and I hadn't even started. The bullet had gone straight through, but his organs weren't as untouched as I had initially thought. It was enough to leave alone for a few hours and let his body regain some strength, but I'd have to deal with the wound soon.

I was in the middle of preparing a syringe when he finally managed to speak. Half of it was random babble that had nothing to do with the actual question. He was struggling to keep from falling asleep again as well. It took over an entire minute for him to get the words out and a few extra seconds for me to make sense of it.

I chuckled slightly, realizing what he'd asked. Some not quite gibberish along the lines of 'what are you going to do to me?' That was the amusing part. I wondered if he'd see the same thing I did if I held a mirror to his face so he could see his own eyes.

I checked the syringe to make sure there was no air inside. Smiling, I pushed the needle into the top of the IV tube and injected it into the blood flowing into his arm.

The room was probably swirling and changing colors for him, but he still needed to have more painkillers. He just had a chunk of metal fly right through the side of his chest and I was about to dig around in the hole it had made with a needle and thread.

Sedatives as well; I've found early on that patients tend to kick and scream if I'm just sewing up their knee. I've moved on from such petty things but the lesson still remains.

I couldn't care less for his well-being. All that mattered was the joke, and that he not ruin it.

My perfect joke. I couldn't help laughing as I watched him fall unconscious. The joke really was absolutely perfect. He didn't know it.

I smiled, an idea coming to me. There was more to this joke than I had initially thought, it was getting better and better. I'd heal him, and then I'd do even more.

The surgery I had to do wasn't so much a delay as a revelation.

…………………………………………………………………

It wasn't so much a question as what to do first as how to go about doing it. First, I'd take that dream away from him. I took Lucrecia from him, I'd take his chance at oblivion from him. He thought I took his life away, and yet, I'm giving it back to him tenfold.

The only thing I knew at first was not to use Jenova cells. I wanted him to live, not something I put inside of him. That would ruin everything; plus I didn't want him distracted from the joke. Ever.

I moved him into one of the more secluded rooms of my laboratory. Not even the idiots that made up Shinra were stupid enough to go in there. Not since I walked out of my office covered in blood head to toe just to grab some coffee.

Everything was locked and would only open to me. He'd sooner snap all the muscles in his arm than open the cabinets or doors.

He was completely dependent on me. I ruined his life and now I owned it. The joke was working nicely already.

While he recovered from a gibbering mess who didn't know which way was up, I started on the experiments. The Jenova Project didn't really need me. I could handle it while sleeping and nothing would go wrong. In fact, I doubt anyone would notice. It was all that easy.

It took time, starting from scratch to work on him.

That joke, I sometimes paused to laugh at it, how brilliant it was. He had even given it to me and never even knew. It flowed like water, almost words I could hear in the silence of the laboratory. Every time I strained to hear them, it all vanished and all I could hear was the gunshot; all I could see was that … gleam, that shine, that ….whatever in his eyes. Then I'd turn back to my research.

The first part was the easiest. It also aided in teaching him not to try anything.

A modified Mako mix, injected into his blood so much that I'd thought he'd start glowing was the first priority.

He'd never see that dream again. He'd never die. I ruined his life and he'd never escape from it.

He tried to rush me, trick me, overpower me, kill me. I didn't bother with sedatives and used a more direct and permanent approach. I broke his arm.

I broke his arm, I broke his ribs, I broke his legs. I broke everything apart from his neck and skull, over and over, day after day, whatever target was handy until he calmed down.

Once one had healed, he'd try again only to suffer the same pain somewhere else. Eventually he gave up. What I was giving him, day after day, sometimes so much that he began retching everywhere, began working.

The last day he tried to get free I kicked him in the ribs, snapping two of them. Then I grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his head and didn't stop twisting.

He fell forward in pain and surprise, holding himself where I'd broken his ribs. He could feel it. Hell, I wouldn't doubt if he could hear it just as he could hear his own blood in his ears. The bones snapped right back into place and sealed the damage I'd given them.

His arm did the same. I broke it again. It healed. Again. Again. Again.

He wanted to scream, I knew, but he was beyond that. He was crying and choking for breath instead.

I almost wondered if it would keep working if I tried his neck. One hand traced the skin over the artery, then the neck vertebrae. I shook my head and took my hand away.

Why risk it? Why risk the joke, the ultimate joke. Why risk what kept me going now, what would surely keep me going afterwards? It would be my own personal achievement. Anyone can be God. I'd be God with a sense of humor.

…………………………………………………………………………

Eventually he decided to stop sleeping. He's such an amateur at this little game.

Then he managed a checkmate, almost. Amazingly, it wasn't intentional on his part. Every time I came in to give him the injections—there were at least seven daily—he was huddled in a corner. He never moved. He never made any sound.

At first he just lay on the ground and flinched when I touched his arm and the needle pierced the skin. When he moved to the corner and didn't even flinch, I paid no attention.

Then I realized he'd been awake for almost a week. He reached for things not there. He focused his eyes on pinpricks on the ceiling. He jerked his arm when I had the needle in, completely unaware that I was there.

I came back a few hours later, a large syringe in hand. I had calculations to finish, the Jenova project to attend to, specimens to examine, experiments to prepare and handle. I'd left him clawing at the wall.

When I entered the room, it was a mess. I thought I'd lost him at first. Lost the joke. There was blood on the wall from where he'd scratched too long.

I had thought eventually he'd pass out from exhaustion while I was gone. I had overestimated him.

The room was a mess, and he was worse. He had lost control of all his bodily functions. The tray of food I had left with him had been flung across the room. There was blood in odd strange streaks everywhere.

He was a complete mess and that was only physically. Mentally was another thing entirely.

Maybe it wasn't me, but the nightmares he was trying to fight against. He'd lost either way. He hadn't avoided the dreams, just the sleep.

He was having a night terror, when sleep paralysis fails. For most people, it's just a dream; just a very powerful image. For him, it was still just an image, just as powerful, but he was moving with it.

He had curled himself into a ball in the middle of the floor. I grabbed his shoulder and pulled him up, ready to give him the injection.

His eyes were wide opened, focusing and unfocusing on something that wasn't there. As much as I had changed those eyes, they couldn't see me now. Those eyes weren't what concerned me, though. He had his left arm in his mouth, frothing bloody spittle on himself.

I grabbed his hair and tried to wrench him off, failing to get his teeth out of his own arm. I wanted to slap him then. I wanted to hurt him any way possible until he let go. No, that wasn't part of it. That wasn't part of the joke. That would ruin it. There was something much better and I couldn't have that taken away from me.

I struggled with him for some time and finally gave up. I jammed the syringe into his back under the collar of his shirt.

I left him to his arm chewing until it stopped. He was actually asleep, and partially paralyzed. Nothing life-threatening, but he wouldn't be able to move his legs in the morning.

I still had to wrench his jaw off his arm afterwards. I wasn't at all pleased with what I had unwittingly left him to do.

I pressed my hand to my temple trying to think of how to deal with it. It was covered in filth and saliva. He had chewed himself to the bone. The wound was just under the elbow. For a few seconds I thought he'd done this on purpose.

I sighed and adjusted my glasses. I set the mess of his limb on the floor gently and went to the cabinet in the room.

I'd have preferred he tried to chew this apart. At worst he'd lose a few teeth.

With supplies from the cabinets, I managed to clean the wound up as best I could. He'd managed to get food on it and worse, he'd pissed all over himself and gotten the wound in it. Since he chewed on it after that, he vomited on it, then, oddly, went back to chewing. That was as much as I could figure out.

He'd be sick in the morning. He wouldn't be able to move if he vomited thanks to what I'd given him. The wound would surely be painful once he woke up. I'd be busy changing his bandages and trying antibiotics on him. He'd probably need surgery as well. It wasn't a small wound. He'd managed to bite a large chunk of his own flesh off.

What I'd given him would heal him if bones were broken or his wrist were slashed. It did nothing against infection or for muscle regrowth.

Damn him. I wanted to kill him for ruining so much, for causing so many delays. Then I remembered the joke. Leave him alone. He'd bring it on himself, arm or no arm. He'd bring himself to the punchline. I was going to ruin everything for him, perhaps this was no different. If I had enough time to think, I'd turn this into something to mock him as well.

I had done everything I could. I had to get back to my job, my joke, and my life. I had to leave him with his.

………………………………………………………………

I put sedatives in his food every so often from then on.

I was constantly changing the bandages on his arm. I knelt by him every time, tracing a hand down his cheek and wiped the tears of pain off his cheeks as I unwrapped the bandages, keeping my anger and frustration over how badly it was healing from him.

Little things like that mislead him, confused him. It wasn't trust I was trying to get from him. Mostly in his confusion he squirmed and screamed less. Plus it was my little running gag, leading up to something big, something great, one of the biggest parts of the joke.

The wound was covered in pus every time I checked it. The muscle wouldn't heal itself. It was indeed infected and the infection was slowly moving upwards to the elbow joint. He couldn't move half his arm anymore. It took concentration just to move a finger. Whatever I had turned him into, it may have healed the bones, but it was helping the infection eat at him. By the time I had established whether the infection was growing or dying, it had spread to the elbow.

I had stopped giving him injections, hoping he would heal himself soon. I had moved on to a new part of the joke, all the pieces would accumulate into something magnificent.

I would make him the monster he thought I was. Once I had stumbled onto something it was purely trial and error the way a painter struggles to capture the perfection of that they imagine on canvas, never sure if it's right until it goes wrong.

That was what caused the nightmares. I was so close as well. I knew what to do now. The arm was useless. Why leave him with it when I could do so much more?

………………………………………………………………….

It was easy convincing the president I needed a prosthetic arm, a remarkably good one too, not a gun-arm.

Mention you want to improve SOLDIER when proving that the Jenova project is ahead of schedule and he doesn't care if you ask to own your own city, he'd give it to you.

The problem was the wait. The infection was spreading further, I found myself praying he'd keep enough of his arm for my plan to work.

Once the prosthetic arrived, I went to work.

I watched him fall unconscious once again on my operating table. As his eyes closed I saw that there was something more than fear of me in them, more than the usual hate. He was begging to me. He was begging for me to stop the pain that kept making him cry, that made him scream at night when I wasn't there to give him the painkillers and there was nothing but a dark, empty lab around him. It was almost trust.

Trust was something of his that wasn't there for me to abuse yet. When I did have it…

I used knife after knife, different ones for cutting different parts of the flesh. I had to cut the skin open near the joint. Thankfully, the infection hadn't spread any farther than the joint. After that, it was a careful task of slicing the muscle from the tendons evenly.

I exchanged knives for needles, needles for blood, blood for knives. I had to stop cutting the muscle to cut the artery. Then I had to suture it closed. Then I checked the bags of blood and plasma and drugs I had attached to his other arm. Then it was back to the muscle, finding exactly where I had left off.

After cutting it all away and sewing up all the arteries, I sighed. I was only half done. With most amputations you wait for it to heal over before attaching the prosthetic, but this, the first machine I had trusted Shinra to develop for me, was a marvel. I kept marveling at it as I adjusted every little piece to fit perfectly to the residual limb. It was hardly realistic, but it was amazing that it worked the way I needed it. An arm, a wrist, fingers, thumb, and all of them would work for him.

That was entirely the point. It looked like nothing more than a gruesome conglomeration of machinery, but it was perfect. The perfect paradox to leave him with.

It was far more than a machine. It was something I, a biologist could appreciate. It was more than a replacement for the elbow joint. It was entirely metal, full of complicated circuitry I wasn't really interested in, but it responded to the nerves in his body as if it were part of it.

I preferred to abandon him in the operating room to wake up on his own. He would always be alone, alone and scared. I left him with the one thing that frightened him most now: himself.

I threw the bloody knives in the sterilization unit. I bandaged the edge of the arm, hoping I'd done a good enough of a job to prevent a neuroma. I'd hate to have this arm of his ruin part of the joke, turn back on me. That wasn't how it went. He shouldn't be in pain, well, not that kind of pain.

This was no small replacement limb, and thus, as I had been informed when I asked for it, it needed a brace to stay on.

It was easy. It was worth it. It took seconds to adjust and fix the straps over his shoulders. Then, carefully, I cleaned the table, pulled his shirt back over his arms, careful to miss the sharp points of his new fingers. I buttoned it up, laid the collar down flat, checked the IVs, then left the room.

…………………………………………………………………………..

I love watching him after I've finished. I have my ways of seeing without being seen, besides, he may have been smart for a Turk, but he was no genius.

There was no one there but him, and that always made him afraid, and acutely aware of what was happening. That was the fun part. Not even a second lasted between the anesthetic induced confusion and sheer terror, but the moment of transition was there, and I loved it.

This time had to be the most hilarious. He sat up and looked around. He actually sat up. Whether he realized he had just used both arms to grip the table and lift himself, or he merely felt the straps of the brace I don't know, but either way, the way he turned his head to look at his arm, twitched each finger and then screamed. It was hilarious.

I bet he could hear me laughing somewhere in the next room. I did laugh. I laughed so hard my knees got weak and I had to kneel on the floor.

Oh, the looks he threw me when he knew he had turned into a monster, the monster he would always see me as, were nothing compared to this. And to think I had gotten angry at him when he'd chewed through his own arm and covered it with his own filth.

Oh, I never imagined it would ever be this amusing. My joke was amazing and it was only half done.

………………………………….

For days the hilarity went on. He was terrified of it and mesmerized by it at the same time. He'd hold his arm as far from himself as he possibly could and watch in amazement as the fingers and palm move with the perfect nuance of his old appendages.

He'd reach to his own shoulder in such fear he struggled against clamping his eyes shut. He traced over the brace straps and delicately down his arm, as if determined to prove this was some trick. That the thing on his arm was really his, but some amazing act of puppetry.

In a sense, it was. He was the puppet master refusing to believe what he was doing.

For a week I brought him food, nearly threw the tray on the floor, and walked off, forcing myself to stay calm. Once the door close and locked on him, I fell to the floor, holding onto the doorknob for balance and clutching my stomach. It hurt to laugh so much, but it felt great as well.

…………………………………………………………………………….

Once I could keep myself from laughing, I decided it was time. It was time for the biggest part of my joke, the climax as it were.

He'd decided to take up a hobby of lying on the floor and pretending the phantom sensations weren't real. I knew he was having them. He would stretch as if the arm were cramped, scratch it as if he could still feel it, he even looked at his wrist once, as if he remembered having a watch. It was normal, and easy to ignore.

"Vincent…" I said, the same way you coax a mouse into your hand before sticking it with a large needle.

I smiled slightly. I was the only person to say his name. I was the one who turned him into so many monsters and gave him the souvenir to remind him he could never hide from being one. Yet I was the one who made him feel human. I gave him his name. He wasn't something manmade when I said his name, despite the fact that most of him was artificial in one way or another by now.

"Vincent," I repeated, gently taking his shoulders and sitting him up. I wrapped my hands around him, despite how filthy his clothes were. I had never given him new ones.

Unused to reacting to anything like this, he slowly, and almost clumsily, lifted his false hand to cover mine.

"No," he said, almost begging. "No, please…" I realized he was crying. From the sound of it, I had interrupted him.

As silently as I could, I let him go, making sure he could balance. He hugged himself with his false arm.

I took off my labcoat and placed it over his shoulders and left, looking over my shoulder to see how he reacted. He tugged the labcoat around him closer, as if he were cold. That was my cue to return in a few hours when he had finished crying.

I returned to him after a few hours. He had stopped crying and was fidgeting with my coat as if he wanted to keep it a while longer. What was it to him? Was it something I had given him that didn't involve pain and he wanted to keep it that way as long as he could? Was it just something he had received from another person, even if that person was me? Perhaps it was just something clean and he'd been trapped in his own filthy clothes for so long.

I knelt in front of him, wrapping an arm around his back. With my free hand I tilted his face towards me. I traced over his cheek bone with my thumb. I brushed away a stray lock of hair, keeping my gaze fix on his eyes.

That desperate look in them, trying to remember what life was like before I had shot him, that was what I wanted. I wanted him sane for all this, and that was the hard part. Snapping his mind in half was too easy. Anyone could do it. But something like this, that took intelligence. This was reserved just for me.

I pulled him closer and pressed my lips against his.

I had kept him away from the touch of anything but the stab of a needle and the slice of a knife for two years and he was more than willing to give in to this deception. I leaned back and pulled him with me, his lips leaving my mouth and finding their way to my ear in the process. He was so eager to do this. As long as I kept my hands on the back of his neck, as long as I kept acting gentle, as long as he was desperate to keep the pain away he was mine.

He was mine in every way. His body was mine. His mind was mine. His soul was mine. Now his trust was mine. He trusted me to take the pain away, no matter how much I had given him before.

I leaned back farther, arching my back. My hands crept to the edge of his dirty jacket and tugged it off his shoulders slowly.

I moved to kiss his lips again to distract him as the clothes, one by one, were meticulously removed.

He must have been desperate. I thought he'd take more coaxing at this point. Then again, I knew nothing of him than what I got from his screaming and even then I mostly ignored him. Perhaps his tastes were different from what I had expected. Perhaps he was desperate for any affection he could receive.

Seeing our shirts gone, he leaned to nuzzle my chest and kiss me. His arms on my sides went lower. His lips went lower. I had to use one arm to balance while the other I used to unfasten my pants and pull my briefs down for him. He refused to go any lower without work on my part.

I will give him this: he has learned to play the same way as me, to draw everything out painfully slow so the anticipation makes you want to scream, and yet you know what comes next is more than anything you've already had.

There was no coaxing, no tricks, not even a word from either of us. I was surprised at that. He was willing, but not submissive. He was quite an aggressor for the position I had put him in for the last few years. He knew what he was doing, he enjoyed what he was doing, and he'd stop and I'd be the one tortured if I didn't keep my hands on him.

I had to keep him happy for this one moment. My hands traced the edge of his pants, and crept further over the fabric. He was enjoying himself enough already, I was just encouraging him. I was just tricking him into thinking I had anything to do with how he reacted.

His hands are one me. His mouth is on me. My hands are on him. To my surprise he is the more skilled one.

He was clumsy, but not inexperienced. I swear even as perfect as this was—the greatest joke, the pleasure of this even if I wasn't playing with him—he was playing with me. I knew perfectly well he knew what he was doing. I knew he was enjoying it as well. After everything I had done to him, if I just turned his world upside-down, saying his name and giving him a few moments of knowing that the sensation of skin on skin without pain existed, I became what he wanted.

Despite the fact that he controlled me for this short time, despite the fact that I was making him happy by giving him comfort, he was even more my toy. With every moment the joke sounded in my mind along with the sensation of his lips and tongue tugging on me, each getting greater in effect on me.

I had control over him. I had control over my plans. How ironic I had no control over myself. I lost control and I lost my balance. I fell on the floor, but the noise I made was from release more than hitting my head on the tile. I could hear him spitting to the side and then gasp. One final mess on the clothes he still wore.

I stared at him as we both tried to calm our rapid breathing. God, it all looked perfect, what I'd done to him. His hair was matted together and tangling every which way as it fell down his broad and bony shoulders. He was paler now, and had lost a lot of weight in the process of becoming this perfect image of real irony. As much as he had been through, he still had that muscled physique to him, despite how skeletal he'd become. He still had the scars, which were no surprise. A large, asymmetrical star where the bullet had hit and a few lines of where I'd cut him open and put him back together, all in white, were almost invisible against his skin.

It was almost here. It was almost over. The joke had been done, said. He didn't get it quite yet. He would, soon, I'd make sure of that. I wanted him to remember it for a long time.

Those eyes again, I turned them red as if they were bleeding inside and still I saw so much in there. My joke, my precious joke, finished, but not over, in those eyes. Then there were the layers and layers of emotions. Were they always there? Did he even know they were there? Or did I make him this way. Did I destroy so much of him he forgot to hide himself from me anymore?

I leaned forward and took his arm, still watching his eyes. What was there was so clear and precise it could have been words written on his irises. 'What now? Is this a lie?' No, Vincent, this is no lie. Not yet. I want you to think it's real for a little longer.

I want you to know it was I who made you happy. I was the one you made love to. I want you to know that now and remember it when you wake.

I pull him into my arms and hold him. He's exhausted. He's ruined. He's mine.

I just wait until he's asleep. I get up and put my clothes back on, and his. He has to search for the proof that what I did wasn't a dream. He knows it's there, but I'm not going to make it obvious what I did, and what I didn't do except in the nightmares I gave him.

……………………………………………………………..

So few people understand how important this could be. No one understands what clothes symbolize, how they separate you from another part of the world. Even our uniforms have so much meaning to them and yet no one really thinks about it as they change for a shower.

It must have been odd for anyone watching me as I searched for old clothes no one wanted anymore. Eventually I managed a random assortment of clothes for him. Considering how tacky most of them were I wasn't surprised they weren't wanted. I wondered why anyone got them in the first place or hadn't thrown them out before hand, but I really didn't care about answers to those questions.

He was glad to get new clothes, but slightly wary. He remembered last night and no doubt had started thinking about it. If only he were intelligent to think beforehand. But he wasn't, and that was what made everything I did to him so amusing.

Despite the fact that I literally knew him inside and out, he had trouble with changing his clothes in front of me. He finally turned his back on me and changed as fast as he could.

It was difficult to find the perfect clothes to give him. The brace had to be covered completely, yet I needed his arm.

It was convenient that he'd been stupid enough to turn his back to me. All I had to do was grab his right arm and twist it behind his back before stabbing him with a needle for the last time.

It was before dawn and the only people who had any chance of seeing me carry him were asleep at their posts.

I wondered why I even worked here, but then I looked down at him as he struggled to swallow and not choke on his own saliva. Anything that could let me accomplish something like this, wherever I could truly become a god while making one, that was worth all the slackers in the world.

No one would really wonder why I borrowed a company car and went to Neibelheim. All my research was there anyway. That's where Sephiroth was kept these days.

He could watch me, but he couldn't move. I could leave all the doors unlocked and he'd never be able to open them.

I had only so much time. Soon the second stage of the drug would kick in and he'd fall asleep. He'd be asleep as long as I wanted him to be. He'd never wake until someone wanted him too. And who'd want to by the time they actually found him?

I took everything from him and gave it back to him, better than before but so warped he hated me and he hated himself even more because of it. I took his life and I made him practically immortal when I gave it back. I changed him into the images of the monster he thought I was. I remain the human, despite every accusation and word he calls me, despite everything he sees me as. It was because of me that he ruined his arm. I gave it back to him, but I gave him a grotesque reminder that he could never hide from what I'd made him. He hated it and was so dependent and unwilling to part with it. So many paradoxes, so many ironies I had given him, and then there was the final one last night. It was just dawning on him as I slipped a small gun into the pocket of his pants. I took the one person he had ever wanted in life away from him and the one he'd made love to was me.

I opened the coffin and he realized what I was doing. Oh, he played his part so perfectly as he gave me one last look behind those stray black hairs. I'd permeated his life with irony right down to the ribbon holding his hair from his face when all he'd ever see from now on was darkness and his own dreams.

When this all began, I gave him his dream of oblivion. But now, he didn't just want to scream at me. He didn't just want her. He wanted me dead. He didn't want oblivion anymore, not until he'd killed me, not until he took himself back from me.

He was struggling to stay awake as I lowered his limp body into the coffin. It would be the longest sleep he'd ever have, but he would definitely be alive. Everything would stop for him. He'd stay asleep forever.

I lowered the lid as his eyelids fluttered closed. I left to lock the door. I'd abandon my notes here. Here, where it all began for him.

I wondered if he could hear me laughing. Oh, it was a perfect joke.